SRILANKA Variously called the emerald isle and green paradise, Sri Lanka is really a country like no other. Culturally and naturally rich, the island has long been famous for its precious gems. Through history this southern neighbour of India has been conquered by Indians, Portuguese, Dutch and British who left their marks here, making for a delightful mix of ancient cities, monuments and atmospheric colonial architecture. Tourism is one of the major industries here and it took a major hit after the 2004 Tsunami which ravaged the coastline of the island. But the lure of this beautiful land draws tourists again. The beautiful beaches, tropical forests, ancient culture and heritage sites are just some reasons to visit the country. In ancient times the Arabs referred to this island as Serendib, the origin of the word 'serendipity'. The name Sri Lanka means 'resplendent land' and the island nation truly lives up to the epithet. A multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, the native Sinhalese in Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist but there is a Tamil minority which adheres to Hinduism. . Traditional arts and crafts like woodcarving, weaving, pottery and metalwork are highly developed. The archaeological sites show Buddhist, Hindu and colonial heritage of the nation. There are Dutch forts and churches as well as British clubs and courthouses. There are seven World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, which include ancient cities, temples and the Sinharaja rainforests. Kandy, with the 16th Century Temple of the Tooth; Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka's first capital city; Galle, Negombo and Pollonaruwa; Adam's Peak, just out of Colombo; Sigiriya Fort, and so goes on the long list. The warm and friendly people are unassuming and befriend the tourist easily and make you feel at home. The Sri Lankan cuisine is irresistible. And then of course, there's enough sun and surf here for an ideal beach holiday. Bentota and Hikkaduwa are two of the famous spots, but luxurious beach resorts are located all over the country and are perfect destinations for rest and relaxation. Adventure sports facilities here are topnotch, from windsurfing, diving and snorkeling to rafting, canoeing and trekking, there are thrills galore! The 103 rivers and streams in Sri Lanka create some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Sri Lanka is indeed a photo opportunity of a lifetime with it natural wealth and cultural beauty. It has many national parks and sanctuaries with exotic wildlife like Elephants, Leopards, Sloth Bears and a great variety of tropical birds.
The cradle of ancient Sinhala civilization, Anuradhapura is close to the temple complex of Mihintale where Buddhism first made its mark on the island. A World heritage site, Anuradhapura's monuments dating to 4th century BC and gleaming white dagobas show a very advanced ancient civilization. It is also beieved to be capital of King Ravana as described in the Indian epic Ramayana. It boasts the oldest dams in the world and the sacred Bo tree, the oldest historically documented tree in the world.
Bentota The popular but laid back beach of Bentota wit vast expanse of golden sands and swaying palm trees is a perfect picture post card destination. Quiet with enough restaurants and hotels, Bentota is the centre for sea turtle breeding. Hatchlings are sent back to sea when ready. Just inland from the beach lies Bentota Village, a traditional coastal settlement with a couple of temples, including Galapata Vihara, a pretty temple dating back to the 12th century.
The capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is also a major commercial hub as it has a natural harbour and bustling sea port. Colonial remnants of bygone days can still be seen; the monumental buildings include the President's House, the former National Assembly and the General Post Office. Further places of interest include the Pettah, a busy bazaar area with Hindu temple, the Jami-ul-Alfar Mosque which is incredibly colourful, and the national museum which is a treasure trove of articles depicting the history and culture of this fascinating country.
Dambulla is the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Though there are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area, the main five caves consists remarkable hand carved Buddha statues and colourful murals representing the life of Buddha. Many of the statues have been gilded in gold leaf, and the murals are painted in rich russet and gold hues, some dating back to the 2nd Century BC. A steep climb via a white colonnaded walkway leads you to this ‘must see’ destination.
Galle One of Sri Lanka's most historically interesting towns, Galle has a rich colonial history, having being occupied by the Dutch, Portuguese and British. The history of Galle dates back to 1505 when a Portuguese fleet bound for the Maldives was blown off course and took shelter in the Galle Harbour. First the Portugese and then the Dutch built forts. In 1663, the Dutch built the 36-hectare Fort, which is now a World Heritage Site. The fort has a unique old world charm with its crumbling architecture, European street names and Dutch churches. The old colonial mansions, narrow streets, and ancient cars roaming the streets make Galle Fort a hauntingly beautiful place to escape into the past. Take a dusk walk around the ramparts to witness one of the loveliest sunsets in the Indian Ocean.
Horton Plains The name is a misnomer as Horton Plains is really a plateau or mesa. It resembles the Scottish highlands in more ways than one. Famous for its wildlife and magnificent views, the mist covered plateau is a haven for birds. This silent and beautiful place is also the home of leopards, sambar deer and the shy bear monkey, however these are less likely to be seen. The highlight of walking in Horton Plains is the easy trek to World's End, a sheer precipice with a 1050 metre drop to the valleys below.
Kandy was the old capital of Ceylon or Sri Lanka and the seat of the last Singhalese Kingdom. The prime attraction of Kandy is the Temple of the Tooth where the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha is enshrined. The sacred tooth is exhibited on the magnificent festival of Esala Perahera held in July-August with exotically costumed dancers, drummers and decorated elephants The Royal Botanical Gardens of Peredeniya has some of the rarest species and is considered a museum of live plants. Shopping at Kandy is also a pleasurable experience. The famous Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a short drive away.
Sirigiriya One of the most known sights of Sri Lanka around the world, Sigiriya Rock (or Lion Rock) rises 200 meters up from the plains and was one of the most shortlived, yet fascinating citadels of ancient Sri Lanka. The story goes that it was built in a mere 7 years by King Kassapa who remained a King for just six years once the citadel was completed. It is a wonder how such an edifice would have been built in those days. In all probability, the materials would have been manually carried and hoisted up sheer rockface. Very little remains of the pleasure palace on the summit, but the incredible view from the summit is breathtaking
People of all faiths from across the island are attracted towards Kataragama, a popular pilgrimage centre. The largest draw is the Esala Full Moon Festival (July/August), when thousands of pilgrims flock to the Hindu temple for the perahera which ends with fire-walking ceremonies. The Buduruwagala Buddha carvings, hewn out of the sheer rock face and reaching 16 metres in height lies north to Kataragama. The Yala National Park is hardly a 10 minute drive away
A well known centre for white water rafting, Kitugale is on the Kelaniya river. David Lean's film "The Bridge on the River Kwai" was shot here. The thick forests and rapids make it a lovely place fit for adventure.
A place of great spiritual significance, it was in Mihintale that the King was converted to Buddhism in 243 BC. It was from here that the religion spread across the country. It is a great monastic city encompassing four forested hills. The climb is tedious but rewarding. The superb views from the hills: one hilltop has a modern Buddha which is beautifully carved, another has an impressive dagoba and temple, and the other is a climb up stone cut grooves to a rock outcrop perfect for meditation.
Minneriya National Park Centred around the huge Minneriya tank, Minneriya National Park is home to over 24 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 26 species of fish and 75 species of butterflies. The area was declared a National Park in 1997 to protect the fauna and flora within the reservoir. Spread over 8889 hectares, it is part of Sudu Kanda mountain range. Elephants, sambar and spotted deer, on rare occasions leopard, and sloth bear, may ne seen on a game safari in the park.
Known around the world, this unique orphanage came to be in 1975. Started by the Department of Wildlife, the twenty five acre coconut property on the Maha Oya river at Rambukkana is a refuge for elephants. The Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was primarily designed to afford care and protection to the many baby elephants found in the jungle without their mothers. This initiative subsists on the tourists who visit the place. Effort is taken to recreate the wild atmosphere for the animals. They are allowed to roam freely during the day and a herd structure is allowed to form as they do in the wild
The closest beach destination to visit in Sri Lanka, Negombo is located just 7 kms away the Bhandaranayike International Airport. Situated at the mouth of the Negombo lagoon, the area has a 100km long nrtwork of canals which are still udsed to transport people and goods. Long stretches of well maintained beaches and the second largest fish market of the country are the main attractions here. At the market Llelama, you can see the auctions happening. Ruled by the Portugese, Dutch and the British at different points of time, Negombo has some colonial heritage too. Of these the Dutch fort built in 1672 is the most popular
Located at a n altitude of 1868 m, Nuwara Eliya is a pleasant hill station in south central Sri Lanka. Just 180 kms away from Colombo, it has a different landscape and weather. The town is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka. The cool climate is best suited for the tea plantations, unending stretches of it cover the highlands. Built by the British in the 19th century, the architecture much like that of an English country town, with red-brick walls, country house like hill club and mock-Tudor half-timbering. It even has a golf course.
A heritage destination, Polonnaruwa traces its history to the 4th Century. The city reached its pinnacle of power in the 12th Century under the legendary King Parakramabahu I. A world heritage site as defuned by UNESCO, it is the second main ancient city of Sri Lanka. It is well known for its almost intact and impressive irrigation systems. The ruins of palaces and the temples are noteworthy. Of particular mention is the Royal Citadel, Royal Pavilions and Relic Houses lavished with moonstones, guard stones and sculptured writings as well as exquisite statues of Buddha. Tourists are allowed to explore the vast site on bicycles on rent.
Located in south-west Sri Lanka, Sinharaja Rainforests is the last tract of virgin tropical rainforests in Srilanka. Spread over 8564.0000 ha, it has about 60% of the trees endemic to the region and is home to many endangered species. Declared a World Heritage Site this is the country's last area of primary lowland tropical rainforest ranging from 300 to1200 meters. The scenic landscape, dotted with gushing waterfalls, mountain streams and mighty rivers leaves anyone yearning for more. The diversity of the animals and birds found here is mindboggling. Giant squirrel, Purple-faced leaf monkey, Torque macaque, Red-faced Malkoha, Green-billed Caucal, Blue Magpie, endemic green pit viper, striped rasbora, walking catfish are just few to to name. With the forest canopy 45 meters above the ground, it gives the eerie but high adrenalin adventure feel that is quite inexplicable. The rainforest is abuzz with insects and one can enjoy the sights and sounds while trekking though this dense forest.
A laid back beach destination, Tangalle is located in south Sri Lanka. It's powdery white beaches are what bring the tourist here. But this destination is becoming by the day and there are quite a few botique hotels here now with exemplary services. Tangalle is also known for the turtles at the nearby Rekawa Beach which is the best place to spot the turtles. Over five turtle species come and nest here. A project to conserve these turtle is also on here involving the villagers. The nearby tiny villages like Medilla, Goyambokke, Pallikaduwe, Mawella, Kudawella and Seenimodera offer the popular spots for sea bathing, sunbathing, swimming, surfing and also snorkeling. Other sights to see include an old Dutch fort which is used as a prison today and the rock temple of Mulkirigala.
This is purely elephant country. If you love to see elephants, this is the place to see them in herds roaming in the wild. Uda Walawe National Park in southern Sri lanka has been a protected area since 1972. Made of partly hill country and partly of flat terrain, the park covers landscape quite barren, with expanses of scrubland and teak forests. The reserve covers 306 km² around catchment of the Uda Walawe reservoir.The park is also a great nesting and feeding ground for the various species of domestic and migratory birds. The Elephant Transit Camp nearby is part of the wildlife project which aims to care for orphaned elephants and ultimately aims to re-introduce them into the wild. The best time to visit the park is between May & September
Located at the far south of the country, Yala National Park has a distinct identity as it covers a an area of about 100,000 hectares from the sea coast to dense forests interspersed with grasslands and semi arid vegetation. Yala is considered to be one of the best parks in the world to observe and photograph leopards. One can explore the park on jeep safaris in the morning or afternoon. The park has a large number of elephants which may be seen bathing in the numerous lakes. The fauna include spotted deer, wild boar, wild buffaloes, sambar deer, jackal, sloth bear and mongoose. Yala also has a large number of important cultural ruins. An annual pilgrimage also winds its way through the park.
Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka, 30km west Anuradhapura, Wilpattu National Park is the island’s largest park forested with nearly 60 villus and tanks.One gets to view various species of flora and fauna,reptiles,31 species of mammals which includes leopard,elephant,sloth bear,water buffalo and many wetland species of birds.
Located in the south west coastal area of Srilanka near the Madu ganga river is Balapitiya ,A Traditional fishing village with golden soft beaches and densely forested mangrove swamp apt for wildlife.With their amazing flora and fauna,numerous mammals,reptiles and fish it is a perfect place for river safari and bird watching.Local people indulge in fishing,toddy tapping and cultivation of cinnamon.
Bandarawela is a bustling hill town like Nuwara Eliya, located in the Badulla District,Srilanka.It is beautifully landscaped with a cooler climate throughout the year.Often considered as a lively place with colourful markets and bazaars of the highlands. Nearby is 300 yr old Dowa Rock Temple , with a eight-meter-high, standing Buddha statue on the cliff-face and a cave with vivid murals of seated Buddhas inside
The lake of Giritale was built artificially in the 7th Century as part of a regional irrigation plan. An easy access to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa,This beautiful and peaceful area with green islands in the middle is surrounded by forest area which is marked as National forests in Srilanka.The famous elephant filled Minneria National Park and Kaudulla National Park are located in this zone.This place also makes it perfect for bird watching
Habarana is a small town in Anuradhapura District of Srilanka. A famous destination for safari lovers in the nearby Habarana National Park and the elephant populated Minneriya sanctuary.Elephant back riding is another attraction.This place is also popular for its luxurious nature friendly hotels and lodges and its unique loca tion near the world heritage sites such as Sigiriya and Dambulla rock temple and Polonnaruwa..
Mirissa is one of the most beautiful beaches on the South Coast of Srilanka with wide stretch of endless golden sand backed by rich vegetation. It is an ideal spot for watching whales and Dolphins.
Ritigala a jungle clad mountain steeped in legends and mystery is situated in Srilanka’s North Central Province ,40 kms southeast of Anuradhapura . It is said that Ritigala won a dual against his fellow-giant, Sona - and that the mountain was the place from which Hanuman leapt across the sea to South India in the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Ritigala is mystically beautiful with meditation platforms and walkways in perfect harmony with huge boulders,noble trees and burbling streams of the wildlife environment.This place enjoys a cooler climate and is rich in unusual plants and herbs.Wildlife includes elephants,leopard,sloth bear and a variety of bird species.Other attractions include the ruins of the Buddhist monastery,natural caves and Brahmi inscriptions.
Langkawi is a beautiful island in the northwestern part of Peninsular Malaysia; many people describe the island as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The island is not (yet) spoiled by tourists, which makes it a perfect holiday destination for travelers. Accommodation is affordable on the island. You can stay in a resort for a mere $30 a night, but also for $3000 for a single night. The island is especially renowned for the many great attractions. Besides that you can shop at some of the shopping malls, you can have splendid dinners at one of the many hawkers, or you can rent a motorcycle (moped) to explore the island (RM40 for 24h). The island is easy accessible from Kuala Lumpur or the neighboring island of Penang.
Genting Highlands otherwise known as Resorts World Genting, is a hill resort in Malaysia developed by Genting Group.The hill resort is at an average elevation of 1,740 metres (5,710 ft) within the Titiwangsa Mountains on the border between the states of Pahang and Selangor of Malaysia. Resorts World Genting is operated by Genting Malaysia Berhad (formerly known as Resorts World Bhd), which also operates Awana chain of resorts & hotels. It is accessible by car from Kuala Lumpur in one hour, or also accessible by a cable car called Genting Skyway, which at its opening was the world's fastest and South East Asia's longest gondola lift.The comprehensive indoor and outdoor theme-park was promoted as the destination for "Fun at The Peak". The entire resort was subsequently billed; "The City of Entertainment".Resorts World Genting is the only legal land-based casino, Casino de Genting, in the country and is owned by Genting Malaysia Berhad, a subsidiary of Genting Group.
Tung Choi Street is a street situated between south of Sai Yeung Choi Street and Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong. It is one of the most well-known street markets in Hong Kong. Its southern section, popularly known as Ladies' Market or Ladies' Street sells various, low-priced products for women and also other general merchandise. Its northern section not far above Bute Street, has a wide variety of affordable plants, pet supplies and animals especially goldfish since it is also known as "Goldfish Street".
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (Man Fat Tsz), located Po Fook Hill at Pai Tau Village, Sha Tin in the New Territories is one of Hong Kong’s most famous Buddhist temples and popular tourist attractions. The temple was founded in 1949 by the Reverend Yuet Kai and completed in 1957. The monastery is not residential and is managed by lay-persons. It should not be confused with the Po Fook Hill Ancestral Halls which lie directly below it. The monastery, which occupies over 8 hectares, is made up of two groups of architectural structures at lower and higher levels respectively. There is a pagoda, a hall, two pavilions and a tower in the architectural structure at the lower level. There are four halls in another structure at the higher level. The five halls in the monastery are used to house the statues of Buddhas. The main journey up to the monastery is an attraction itself, as the path is lined on both sides with golden Buddhas, each unique and in different poses.
Wong Tai Sin Temple is a well known shrine and major tourist attraction in Hong Kong. It is dedicated to Wong Tai Sin, or the Great Immortal Wong. The temple is located on the southern side of Lion Rock in the north of Kowloon. The architecture is the traditional Chinese temple style with grand red pillars, a golden roof adorned with blue friezes, yellow latticework, and multi-coloured carvings. Aside from the Daxiong-baodian or Grand Hall, Sansheng Hall and the Good Wish Garden are also worth seeing. The temple grounds also feature three memorial archways. The first one stands outside the temple and is carved with the name of the temple. If you walk past the soothsayers and the fortune-telling stalls, you can see another memorial archway. And if you continue further along the third memorial archway standing before you.
Standing 44-metres tall, the old Clock Tower was erected in 1915 as part of the Kowloon–Canton Railway terminus. The once-bustling station is long gone, but this red brick and granite tower, now preserved as a Declared Monument, survives as an elegant reminder of the Age of Steam. It has also been a memorable landmark for the millions of Chinese immigrants who passed through the terminus to begin new lives not just in Hong Kong, but in other parts of the world via the city’s harbour.
Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong. The statue is sited near Po Lin Monastery and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. It is a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong, and is also a popular tourist attraction.The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. One of the five large Buddha statues in China, it is enthroned on a lotus on top of a three-platform altar. Surrounding it are six smaller bronze statues known as "The Offering of the Six Devas" that are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These symbolise the Six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary for enlightenment